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MILLENNIALS


As a result, travel companies are adapting to these trends. James Stevenson, UK vice-president and general manager at American Express Global Business Travel, says it’s essential to communicate the right messages at the right time via the right channels, whether that’s in-app, SMS or email. It’s crucial “that the traveller feels engaged, informed, supported and listened to,” he adds. “Key to driving better compliance among travellers of all ages, including millennials, is providing the right choice of content, and ease of booking via user-friendly tools,” he says. “That way, they are happy to book within the managed travel environment and their data is visible to TMCs and travel managers.” Technology is the road to success, according to research conducted by Amadeus, which reveals that while the mobile-addicted millennial has become an overplayed cliché, it is grounded in truth, leading to a transformation in travel habits. “Disruptive businesses, such as Airbnb and Uber,


have changed the game, entrenching new expectations of convenience and rapidity among millennials,” claims Amadeus. “Translating this into travel, we are faced with a generation demanding a highly streamlined experience powered by technology. For example, in a recent survey, 83 per cent of respondents admitted that it takes them over an hour to book a trip through the corporate process, which underscores the need for reform. It is now up to corporate travel providers to sort the trends from the fads and invest in practical technology if they want to remain relevant among the community of young business travellers.”


‘MODERN BUSINESS TRAVELLERS’ While industry reports tend to reaffirm some of the stereotypical traits, there’s also a realisation that perhaps all business travellers – no matter their age – are shifting towards a more digital era. And while millennials are heavily dependent on technology, booking websites and social media, they also appear to favour face-to-face business meetings and are keen on “personalisation”. “Personalisation is what people are coming to expect in their day-to-day experiences,” says Stevenson. “Look at how the online retailers – Amazon, Netflix and Google – invest hugely in gaining depth of understanding, predicting and prompting their customers’ habits and preferences.” However, Stevenson doesn’t distinguish between millennials and other business travellers. “It can be misleading to talk about trends in terms of the ‘millennial’. We tend to think of the ‘modern business traveller’. The generally preferred communication method is via mobile, so the ability to book on apps is essential. Booking processes need to be simple, fast and efficient and the range of accommodation and transfers vast. However, we believe these preferences transcend all generations, not just millennials.”


Alex Cousins, global director client services for Reed & Mackay, is also keen not to separate the habits of millennials with other generations of business travellers. “Not every millennial expects the same [thing],” he says. “Mobile app solutions are increasingly important but mobile isn’t the only way millennials want to connect.” But aren’t millennials incorrigible rule-breakers who


spend more on business trips, always book Airbnbs and embrace bleisure and apps?


buyingbusinesstravel.com


LOOK AT MIRRORING SOMEONE IN BODY LANGUAGE AND VOICE TONE


MILLENNIALS ARE NOT SHAPING TRAVEL… ALL TRAVELLERS ARE MORE THAN HAPPY TO EMBRACE ONLINE BOOKING AND APPS


“Certainly within our booking programme we wouldn’t allow the use of Airbnbs and we haven’t seen any increased spending among millennials,” says Pam Booth, group procurement manager for Impellam Group, a recruitment firm. Booth adds that “bleisure” is not “something we’ve offered in the past in our travel programme” but it’s “something we’re introducing as a formal part of the policy at the moment”. “Millennials are not shaping travel,” she adds, “and


all travellers are more than happy to embrace online booking and apps – whether they’re millennials or not.” “I would say millennials are probably using apps, such


as Uber, a little bit more,” Booth admits, “and looking at my friends’ circle I would say millennials are a little more embracing of apps and mobile technology, but the older generation is very much catching up. “Millennials are not changing things from my perspec- tive as a buyer. For me, in the last few organisations that I’ve worked for, it’s been procurement that has driven the changes, not millennials; procurement has been driving the online booking platforms and the apps.” But do millennials disregard, for instance, travel policies? “I haven’t found that millennials ignore travel


2019 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 101


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